Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate confused me a little while playing it. I, admittedly, am not the biggest Castlevania fan, but I played the awesome Symphony of the Night, and immediately became interested in the series. This game, however, didn’t really live up to my expectations. It is a serviceable entry into the Castlevania lore, but lacks the flare that made other iterations in this series so awesome.
In it, you play as four different characters, starting with the hero from the console version of Lords of Shadow – Gabriel Belmont. Don’t get too comfortable however, as you’ll be switching characters throughout the game, and usually just at the point where you’ve gotten really good using them. And you switch permanently, there’s no going back. Once you’ve mastered the moves of one character you’re tossed into a new character to learn their moves and quirks…when you’re comfy there, BAM! New character. It is a progression system that really doesn’t make sense. It seems rushed and not very well thought out. The story is choppy, and while it does a good job trying to flesh out the Belmont family story, it never really finds its feet, and overall, becomes a bit of a jumble.
The gameplay is good, but the one cardinal sin of 3DS platforming is committed here. No d-pad controls. The overall responsiveness of the controls in this game is good, but you’re forced to use the circle pad, and in a game that relies so heavily on precise movement and split-second decisions, you’re often cursing at the little round stick as you plummet to the floor after ascending a bunch of platforms. And that’s the irony: the platforming actually shines in this game! It is a good mixture of grappling and jumping while fending off monsters and it is a shame that it is marred bu the lack of tighter controls.
Combat is good, the whip-fighting is here again, and you’re treated to a combo system that is pretty rewarding. It’s good looking, and works overall. The only issue I had here is the obscene amount of quicktime- movie battle elements. You work your way to the end of a combo only to have the ultimate move achieved by….pressing A. It takes away from the satisfaction of doing all of the motions yourself, and feels slightly less rewarding. Because of this, fights are not as enjoyable as I’d like them to be, and add in the fact that boss battles have save-points built into the fights, it takes nearly all of the challenge out of the fights.
Castlevania looks good, and the old-school overhead map system is a great addition, but you’re often treading through the same type of areas over and over, and battling the same enemies as well. There isn’t a large variety of enemies that other Castlevania games are known for, but rather tons of the same style enemies, which makes exploration a little mundane. You also can collect rare items and scrolls, but they have little to offer you and often don’t really need to be collected at all.
Overall, it was an ok experience, and a serviceable entry into the franchise. The average player looking for an action/platformer will have a good time exploring, fighting and making your way through the castle. But if you’re a die-hard Castlevania fan, or looking to get into the Castlevania series for the first time, your money is better spent on some of the older GBA classics.